Iceland’s luckiest homeowner: Aerial images show how volcano lava stopped just yards away


Astonishing aerial images show how one lucky homeowner escaped an expensive disaster after scorching lava from Iceland’s volcanic eruption stopped just yards away from their house.

The molten lava surged towards the town of Grindavik and engulfed several homes on Sunday after the volcano on the Rekyjanes peninsula erupted for the second time in less than a month.

But for one homeowner, they can breathe a sigh of relief after aerial images showed how the scorching lava had reached the fence surrounding the property before solidifying and leaving the property unscathed.  

They will have watched in horror as the molten lava had incinerated the properties next door, thinking that their home would be next. But by some stroke of luck, the molten rock stopped just yards away from the property.

It comes as the desperate hunt for a man who plunged down a fissure opened by the volcano continued today after Iceland’s president said the country is battling ‘tremendous forces of nature’.

Dismayed residents of Grindavik, who were all evacuated from the fishing town before the second eruption began yesterday morning, have had to watch from afar as the scorching lava engulfed several of their homes. 

Harrowing footage from today showed the destroyed remains of houses that were incinerated by the flames, with some being completely flattened and covered by the now black lava rock. 

Astonishing aerial images show how one lucky homeowner escaped an expensive disaster after scorching lava from Iceland's volcanic eruption stopped just yards away from their house

Astonishing aerial images show how one lucky homeowner escaped an expensive disaster after scorching lava from Iceland’s volcanic eruption stopped just yards away from their house

But for one homeowner, they can breath a sigh of relief after aerial images showed how the scorching lava had reached the fence surrounding the property (bottom right in image) before solidifying and leaving the property unscathed

But for one homeowner, they can breath a sigh of relief after aerial images showed how the scorching lava had reached the fence surrounding the property (bottom right in image) before solidifying and leaving the property unscathed

Astonishing aerial images show how one lucky homeowner escaped an expensive disaster after scorching lava from Iceland's volcanic eruption stopped just yards away from their house after it destroyed the properties next door

Astonishing aerial images show how one lucky homeowner escaped an expensive disaster after scorching lava from Iceland’s volcanic eruption stopped just yards away from their house after it destroyed the properties next door 

An aerial view taken on January 15 shows a lava stream near houses in Grindavik, southwest of the capital Reykjavik, after a volcanic eruption

An aerial view taken on January 15 shows a lava stream near houses in Grindavik, southwest of the capital Reykjavik, after a volcanic eruption

The lava destroyed houses in Grindavik and engulfed them in flames on Sunday

The lava destroyed houses in Grindavik and engulfed them in flames on Sunday 

The molten rock streamed towards homes in the northernmost tip of the village, which sits around 25 miles from county's capital, Reykjavík

The molten rock streamed towards homes in the northernmost tip of the village, which sits around 25 miles from county’s capital, Reykjavík

.

.

Nail-biting footage shows the construction workers working against the clock to evacuate from the area and save the machines with the scorching lava seen just yards away as they move as quickly as the slow excavators and bulldozers will allow.

.

.

The video, filmed by a worker inside an excavator, shows a bulldozer barrelling towards the road as flames lick the right side of the road and flaming molten lava seen in the wing mirror. Foreman Ármann Jón Garðarsson said no one was hurt in the dramatic evacuation effort and all vehicles were saved

Lava flows from a volcano as houses burn in Grindavik, Iceland, January 14, 2024, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video

Lava flows from a volcano as houses burn in Grindavik, Iceland, January 14, 2024, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video

Lava from an erupting volcano in Iceland consuming a building near the town of Grindavik, Iceland, on Sunday

Lava from an erupting volcano in Iceland consuming a building near the town of Grindavik, Iceland, on Sunday 

Lava flows from a volcano in Grindavik, Iceland, on January 14

Lava flows from a volcano in Grindavik, Iceland, on January 14

Emergency personnel use diggers to build a protective wall to stop the flow of lava

Emergency personnel use diggers to build a protective wall to stop the flow of lava

An aerial view shows lava after volcano eruption located close to Sundhnukagigar, about 4 kilometers northeast of Grindavik town of Reykjanes peninsula, Iceland on Sunday

An aerial view shows lava after volcano eruption located close to Sundhnukagigar, about 4 kilometers northeast of Grindavik town of Reykjanes peninsula, Iceland on Sunday

It comes as dramatic footage showed the scorching lava surging towards construction workers and their vehicles as they desperately tried to build a defensive wall to protect Grindavik from the molten rock.  

Brave workmen had raced to the edge of the lava flow to save their work machines that were being used to build defensive barriers around Grindavik after the volcano erupted on Sunday. 

Nail-biting footage shows the construction workers working against the clock to evacuate from the area and save the machines with the scorching lava seen just yards away as they move as quickly as the slow excavators and bulldozers will allow. 

The video, filmed by a worker inside an excavator, shows a bulldozer barrelling towards the road as flames lick the right side of the road and flaming molten lava seen in the wing mirror. Foreman Ármann Jón Garðarsson said no one was hurt in the dramatic evacuation effort and all vehicles were saved.

Despite the workmen’s best efforts to build a defensive barrier around the town, the molten rock streamed towards homes in the northernmost tip of the town and incinerated them within minutes. 

‘This is serious, it’s basically as bad as it can possibly get. Although it might get even worse, who knows,’ evacuated resident Jon Gauti Dagbjartsson said on Sunday. 

‘I actually live in the house that I was born in and it’s a tough thought to think that this town might be over, and I would have to start all over somewhere else. But if that’s the case, then that’s exactly what we’ll do,’ he said.

President Gudni Th. Johannesson said in a televised addressed late Sunday that ‘a daunting period of upheaval has begun on the Reykjanes peninsula’ after the dormant volcanic system awakened after almost 800 years. 

It comes as hundreds of people have been searching for the workman since Wednesday after he fell through a crevasse he had been trying to fill in. The workman was being lowered into the crack, which is around 10 metres deep, when he fell. 

Rescue efforts have been hampered by the conditions and the fact that the small gap can only fit two people at the time to look for him. And the conditions worsened on Sunday when the volcano erupted a second time. 

In the hours before the volcano erupted on Sunday morning, authorities had ordered residents to leave the fishing town of Grindavik as a swarm of small earthquakes indicated an imminent eruption.

Geophysicist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson said on Monday morning that the eruption had ‘decreased considerably’ overnight, but that it was impossible to say when it would end.

Grindavik, a town of 3,800 people about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of the capital, Reykjavik, was previously evacuated in November when the Svartsengi volcanic system awakened after almost 800 years.

The volcano eventually erupted on Dec. 18, sending lava flowing away from Grindavik. Residents were allowed to return to their homes on Dec. 22.

Since then, emergency workers have been building defensive walls that have stopped much of the lava flow from the new eruption short of the town.

But those defensive walls were no match for the lava flow on Sunday morning, with the molten rock flowing towards homes and incinerating them. 

Lava flows from a volcano as houses burn in Grindavik, Iceland, January 14, 2024

Lava flows from a volcano as houses burn in Grindavik, Iceland, January 14, 2024

Billowing smoke and flowing lava are seen in this Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management , January 14

Billowing smoke and flowing lava are seen in this Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management , January 14

The lava from Sunday morning's eruption was seen creeping towards homes in the northernmost part of the town

The lava from Sunday morning’s eruption was seen creeping towards homes in the northernmost part of the town

The eruption began just before 8am local time Sunday. Around midday, a second fissure several thousand feet wide split open

The eruption began just before 8am local time Sunday. Around midday, a second fissure several thousand feet wide split open

Homes in the small village were seen burning next to the ever-growing wash of molten lava

Homes in the small village were seen burning next to the ever-growing wash of molten lava

Lava crept towards the fishing town of Grindavík Sunday, swallowing three houses

Lava crept towards the fishing town of Grindavík Sunday, swallowing three houses

A plume of smoke, illuminated by lava spewing from a volcano near the town of Grindavik, is seen from a distance over the country's capital of Reykjavík

A plume of smoke, illuminated by lava spewing from a volcano near the town of Grindavik, is seen from a distance over the country’s capital of Reykjavík

Lava bursts from the ground in Iceland near the town of Grindavik, January 14

Lava bursts from the ground in Iceland near the town of Grindavik, January 14

Explosions are seen beyond buildings in the town of Grindavik, January 14

Explosions are seen beyond buildings in the town of Grindavik, January 14

‘According to the first images from the Coast Guard’s surveillance flight, a crack has opened on both sides of the defenses that have begun to be built north of Grindavík,’ the Icelandic Meteorological Office said in a statement. 

Molten lava flows reached the outskirts of Grindavik around noon on Sunday, setting three houses alight, although the town was evacuated earlier and there was no immediate danger to people.

‘In a little village like this one, we’re like a family, we all know each other as family – it’s tragic seeing this,’ local resident Sveinn Ari Gudjonsson said. ‘It’s unreal, it’s like watching a film,’ added the 55-year-old, who works in the fishing industry.

No one has been killed in the eruptions, but a workman is missing after reportedly falling into a crack opened by the volcano.

‘We don’t yet know how this eruption will unfold, but we must still take those actions that are within our power,’ the president said.

‘We continue to hope for as good an outcome as possible, in the face of these tremendous forces of nature,’ he added. ‘We will carry on with our responsibilities and we will continue to stand together.’

Video taken from an Icelandic Coastguard helicopter shows huge pools of molten rock and a wall of flames rising into the night sky.

Víðir Reynisson, chief supervisor of the Office of the National Commissioner of the Police, told local media that ‘no one is going into Grindavíkuntil we are absolutely sure that it will be OK.’

Live video footage on Monday showed glimpses of orange lava still flowing to the surface but at smaller volumes, and further away from the town.

Geologists on Sunday said magma corridors were believed to be flowing underneath the abandoned town, however, posing continued risk.

‘Unfortunately (the lava) went a little bit more south than we had hoped for,’ the head of Iceland’s Civil Protection and Emergency Management, Vidir Reynisson, told a press conference late on Sunday.

Flights to and from the country were not affected as of Sunday, and Iceland Air confirmed that the operations of Keflavík Airport were not impacted.

But devastating lava flows razed several homes in Grindavík, according to local media, with the potential for more destruction looming ahead.

Lovísa Mjöll Guðmundsdóttir, a natural disaster expert at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, said: ‘It cannot be ruled out that more cracks will open.

‘The GPS data showed us that there is increased magma inflow into the tunnel and with that there is a possibility of more fissures opening up.’

Police chief Víðir Reynisson, citing the Icelandic Met Office, warned that ‘there is no end to magma inflow into the tunnel, and as a result we need to be prepared and focus our actions on the real danger, a large crack opening in Grindavík, major gas pollution from this and then the possible opening of new eruptions.’ 

The Icelandic government will meet on Monday to decide on support for the people of Grindavik.

‘We need to put a lot of extra efforts into finding more housing, suitable housing,’ Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said.

Iceland, which sits above a volcanic hot spot in the North Atlantic, averages one eruption every four to five years. The most disruptive in recent times was the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which spewed clouds of ash into the atmosphere and disrupted trans-Atlantic air travel for months.

The latest eruption isn’t expected to release large amounts of ash into the air. Operations at Keflavík Airport are continuing as normal, said Gudjon Helgason, spokesman for airport operator Isavia.

Seismic activity had intensified overnight and residents of Grindavik were evacuated, Icelandic public broadcaster RUV reported

Seismic activity had intensified overnight and residents of Grindavik were evacuated, Icelandic public broadcaster RUV reported

Billowing smoke and flowing lava are seen in this Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management , January 14, 2024, handout image during an volcanic eruption on the outskirts of the evacuated town of Grindavik, western Iceland

Billowing smoke and flowing lava are seen in this Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management , January 14, 2024, handout image during an volcanic eruption on the outskirts of the evacuated town of Grindavik, western Iceland

A helicopter flies near lava explosions and smoke near residential buildings in the southwestern Icelandic town of Grindavik

A helicopter flies near lava explosions and smoke near residential buildings in the southwestern Icelandic town of Grindavik

Thick clouds of smoke billowed over the landscape during the eruption

Thick clouds of smoke billowed over the landscape during the eruption

Lava explosions and rising smoke are seen near a house in Iceland after a volcanic eruption near the town of Grindavik, in the Reykjanes peninsula

Lava explosions and rising smoke are seen near a house in Iceland after a volcanic eruption near the town of Grindavik, in the Reykjanes peninsula

Smoke rises following a volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula

Smoke rises following a volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula

Lava is seen engulfing a house in Grindavik, Iceland over the weekend

Lava is seen engulfing a house in Grindavik, Iceland over the weekend

Heavy construction equipment work on a protective wall near the town of Grindavik after a volcanic eruption, in the Reykjanes peninsula, southwestern Iceland, January 14

Heavy construction equipment work on a protective wall near the town of Grindavik after a volcanic eruption, in the Reykjanes peninsula, southwestern Iceland, January 14

Seismic activity intensified overnight and several thousand residents of Grindavík were evacuated, while 200 elected to stay behind despite the warnings

Seismic activity intensified overnight and several thousand residents of Grindavík were evacuated, while 200 elected to stay behind despite the warnings

Aerial images show flowing lava drawing near homes in the southwestern Icelandic town

Aerial images show flowing lava drawing near homes in the southwestern Icelandic town

The fishing village lost power at around 5am following a period of heightened seismic activity

The fishing village lost power at around 5am following a period of heightened seismic activity

Residents of Grindavík were evacuated around 3am local time on Sunday as seismic activity continued to intensify.

The Public Safety Department of the National Police reported that 200 earthquakes were recorded overnight, with Grindavík losing power at around 5am.

But by Sunday night, eruption in the fissure had largely subsided.

‘It seems to us that it has almost stopped, the lava flow by these houses,’ said Böðvar Sveinsson, a natural disaster expert at the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, one of Iceland’s biggest tourist attractions, shuttered after reopening just one week prior.

On Sunday, the spa extended its closure through January 16. However, its website noted that the eruption site was ‘a safe distance’ away.

Police begged locals to steer clear of the eruption site.

‘We ask people not to go to the eruption on foot,’ local police said. ‘It is extremely cold outside and the walk is long and the ground is unstable in terms of cracks and other things.

‘In addition, all responders are busy and do not have the manpower to pick up people who leave on foot.’

They noted that the area around the volcano was dangerous due to fissures, gas and other hazards.

Iceland’s prime minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, urged residents to band together and uplift one another.

‘Today is a black day for Grindavík and today is a black day for all of Iceland, but the sun will rise again,’ she said. ‘Together we will deal with this shock and whatever may come. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.’

Authorities urged locals to steer clear of the eruption site and stay out of Grindavík until they could fully evaluate the area

Authorities urged locals to steer clear of the eruption site and stay out of Grindavík until they could fully evaluate the area

Lovísa Mjöll Guðmundsdóttir, a natural disaster expert at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, cautioned against the possibility of more fissures opening

Lovísa Mjöll Guðmundsdóttir, a natural disaster expert at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, cautioned against the possibility of more fissures opening

Eruption in the fissure largely subsided after the lava flow destroyed several homes Sunday

Eruption in the fissure largely subsided after the lava flow destroyed several homes Sunday

Iceland Air, the country's national carrier, announced that the operation of the country's major airport would not be affected

Iceland Air, the country’s national carrier, announced that the operation of the country’s major airport would not be affected

Aerial view of the lava field near Grindavík on December 22, 2023

Aerial view of the lava field near Grindavík on December 22, 2023

People watch as the night sky is illuminated by the eruption of a volcano near the fishing town on December 18, 2023

People watch as the night sky is illuminated by the eruption of a volcano near the fishing town on December 18, 2023

A man adjusts his camera near Keflavik, Iceland, during Sunday's eruption

A man adjusts his camera near Keflavik, Iceland, during Sunday’s eruption

The sun can be seen through dark plumes of smoke rising from the volcano

The sun can be seen through dark plumes of smoke rising from the volcano

The evacuation, she insisted, was called at the right time. 

‘Of course, we have all eyes on this area to ensure the safety of the residents. However, it is quite clear that this is a huge burden for the townspeople. Naturally, the pressure is starting to take its toll on people,’ she continued.

‘As the situation is now, we are seeing that the lava is flowing towards Grindavík. The ramparts, however, may be useful even if the southern part of the fissure extends into them. We are monitoring the situation from minute to minute.’ 

The country’s president issued his own statement.

‘We are still reminded of the power of the forces of nature,’ President Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson said. ‘And still we hope for the best, as we do everything in our power to ensure people’s lives. [We are trying] to protect structures to the best of our ability. 

Members of a rescue team watch a volcanic eruption north of the southwestern Icelandic town of Grindavík

Members of a rescue team watch a volcanic eruption north of the southwestern Icelandic town of Grindavík

Iceland's president, Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, said in a statement posted to social media: 'We are still reminded of the power of the forces of nature'

Iceland’s president, Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, said in a statement posted to social media: ‘We are still reminded of the power of the forces of nature’

A police car blocks the access to the road that leads to Grindavík on January 14, 2024

A police car blocks the access to the road that leads to Grindavík on January 14, 2024

A massive plume of gas was seen rising from the site of Sunday's eruption

A massive plume of gas was seen rising from the site of Sunday’s eruption

‘Together we Icelanders think warmly of [residents of Grindavík], and everyone who takes care of public protection and operations on the scene. Now we are all tested.’

Iceland is home to 33 active volcano systems, the highest number in Europe.

The January 14 eruption is Iceland’s fifth in two years, the previous one occurring on December 18, 2023 in the same region southwest of Reykjavik. 

That eruption started in the Svartsengi volcanic system and came after Grindavík’s 4,000 inhabitants completely evacuated.

The fishing town was ultimately spared as the lava flowed in a different direction.

While volcanic eruptions aren’t uncommon in Iceland, volcanoes on the Reykjanes Peninsula were dormant for 800 years until 2021. 

Lying between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, two of the largest on the planet, Iceland is a seismic and volcanic hot spot as the two plates move in opposite directions. 

The residents of Grindavík were forced to evacuate overnight following a series of earthquakes

The residents of Grindavík were forced to evacuate overnight following a series of earthquakes

The first eruption on January 14 was understood to have taken place around 7.50am

The first eruption on January 14 was understood to have taken place around 7.50am

Lava flowed towards the sleepy fishing village, coasting past heaps of dirt and rock that were meant to hinder it

Lava flowed towards the sleepy fishing village, coasting past heaps of dirt and rock that were meant to hinder it

Lava was seen just 500 meters away from Grindavík before crossing into the town

Lava was seen just 500 meters away from Grindavík before crossing into the town

The December eruption began around 2.4 miles from the town of Grindavík at the Sundhjuka crater, on the Reykjanes peninsula. 

Thrill-seekers were criticised for venturing towards, not away, from the eruption that forced thousands to flee their homes. 

‘It’s just something from a movie!’ Robert Donald Forrester III, a tourist from the United States, said at the time. 

A group of boys named told local media in December that they usually headed towards eruptions in Reykjanes.

‘We are trying to see the eruption. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any closer. It’s a hobby that we’ve had for four years, attending every single eruption, and we’ll continue to do so.’

The Reykjanesbraut, a key Icelandic highway in the area, was lit up with white headlights from cars travelling towards, not away from, the crater in December

Snow-covered cars were parked nearby

The Reykjanesbraut, a key Icelandic highway in the area, was lit up with white headlights from cars travelling towards, not away from, the crater (left) while cars were parked nearby (right) in December

The Ministry of the Environment was forced to issue repeated warnings to those thinking about getting close to the volcano last month

The Ministry of the Environment was forced to issue repeated warnings to those thinking about getting close to the volcano last month

A group watches as smoke billows into the sky from the volcano explosion in December

A group watches as smoke billows into the sky from the volcano explosion in December



Read More

Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More